PLATTSBURGH — Vandals broke into mausoleums and disturbed three bodies in two local cemeteries last week.
“It’s a very sad crime,” Plattsburgh City Police Chief Desmond Racicot said. “It’s certainly very traumatic for the family members.”
In both cases, the groundskeepers at the cemeteries reported the crimes to police, Racicot said.
The chief said that, sometime between the night of May 12 and the morning of May 13, one or more people broke into a granite mausoleum that held a casket in St. Peter’s Cemetery.
A portion of the structure depicting a picture of the deceased, the date of birth and the date of death was destroyed and moved aside so the mausoleum could be opened and the casket pulled out, Racicot said.
Then the casket was searched and pushed back inside, likely to conceal the crime, he said.
Police, who did not release the names of those whose final resting places were defiled, worked with Brown Funeral Home and determined that nothing was stolen, he said.
The body had been buried for several years, Racicot said.
Then, on the night of May 14 or the morning of May 15, the bodies of a husband and wife buried side-by-side in another mausoleum, located in Riverside Cemetery in the City of Plattsburgh, were disturbed, Racicot said.
After the name plate was broken off, one of the caskets was opened without the use of force, while the latches were smashed off the other one and it was forced open, Racicot said.
The couple’s remains were searched before the caskets were put back into the granite burial structure, the chief said.
He said investigation has shown that they were likely physically touched.
“Nothing appears to be taken from either of the bodies,” he said.
Police have collected physical evidence from both cemeteries that will be analyzed in a crime lab, the chief said.
“There’s a certain sense of sacred ground,” Racicot said of cemeteries. “People who commit these kinds of crimes, they don’t understand these boundaries.”
Police continued to investigate the two incidents.
New York has a special designation for cemetery desecration within the criminal mischief section of the state’s Penal Law, Racicot said.
“We’d likely be looking at felony charges.”
Anyone with information related to the crimes is asked to call City Police at 563-3411.
Any information given to police will be kept confidential, Racicot said.
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